Achievable Hybrid Event Ideas in a Post-Pandemic Event Landscape

It’s 2022, the world is ready to meet face-to-face again and the backlash against screen time has never been bigger. Attendees are tired of virtual events and burnout is real. This is a hot topic at event leadership conferences like the Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF), leaving us all to ask: are the days of virtual events over? 

We’d say, not quite. While more are looking to travel and interact in person, we should not forget the lessons we learned over the past two years, or the opportunities they present. Hybrid events combine the best of virtual and in-person and are inclusive, expand your audience, and provide your attendees with a choice that best fits their needs.  

Here are some hybrid event ideas that will help you get the best out of both worlds. 

Choosing Technology That Bridges the Gap

One of the hardest things to consider when planning a hybrid event is your budget. It doesn’t make sense to use technology that only works for half your event attendees. 

Have you considered that your in-person attendees might use your virtual event software? Believe it or not, many attendees prefer to watch an early morning keynote from the comfort of their hotel room or at a coffee shop before they make their way to the convention center. Make sure your virtual platform works for mobile and you’ll engage those in-person attendees that you would have missed otherwise.

As for your virtual attendees, how are you planning to keep them engaged? Many attendees can or won’t download your event app when they have the ability to access a virtual platform online from their computers. They may be more open to a chatbot. If you’re interested in pushing out notifications or having information easily accessible at somebody’s fingertips, consider using an SMS event bot to immediately engage with personalized notifications and respond to questions about using the virtual event technology. 

Hybrid Event Ideas for Curating Content

It’s important when deciding what content will be broadcast to your virtual audience that your virtual experience is uniquely different from your in-person experience. The virtual audience is especially at-risk of feeling like they were an afterthought or just flies on the wall watching a really good event. The key thing to make sure you’re doing is providing them with value. 

During the content planning stage, think about what sessions will resonate with your virtual audience the most. Consider broadcasting special content only they have access to such as behind-the-scenes interviews with speakers. Also consider recording and re-broadcasting live presentations in different time zones so you can reach as many virtual attendees as possible. 

Don’t forget to make them feel included beyond the educational sessions. While the in-person attendees are networking face-to-face, consider unique ways to fill in the gaps, such as a dance party with a DJ, or meditation with a yoga instructor. 

On Demand Anytime

A hybrid event doesn’t necessarily have to occur over the course of the in-person portion of the event. Who says your event can only be 2 or 3 days long? Consider taking the opportunity to create on-demand content that can be delivered year-round while you have your speakers in-person. Instead of hiring your speakers to give one presentation, invite them to give a second presentation in your “Content Studio.” This could be in the form of an interview, or a deep dive into the content they presented in-person. This could be a short form TED Talk-style 15 minute presentation completely different from the one they gave in-person or even a live Q&A session exclusive to virtual attendees. 

After creating the content on-site, take the time to give it a professional makeover with a fancy intro and outro. You could then create a website with access to all the content behind a paywall or start a drip campaign where you release individual pieces of content every month. It’s ultimately up to you to decide what works best for your audience. The thing to remember is that you can really stretch out engagement with your community with year-round on-demand content that they can watch on their time. 

Is Hybrid Right For You?

Once you consider what technology could benefit your virtual and in-person attendees, what content would provide value to your virtual attendees, and how you can create content delivered on demand, you can decide if a hybrid event is right for you. For some audiences it’s a perfect solution, and for others it might be more than you need. The decision is ultimately up to you, and what will resonate with and expand your audience. 

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